New York Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he opposes legislation to allow for the use of medical marijuana in the Empire State. Cuomo's remarks came in response to a question prompted by a statement by Republican nominee week Carl Paladino a week earlier that the subject should be put to a popular vote.
The irascible arch-conservative Palodino, an upstart upstate candidate, trails badly in the polls. According to Real Clear Politics, in the average of all polls on the race, Paladino gets trounced 58% to 31%. The most recent poll, taken over the weekend, has Cuomo winning 60% to 37%.
But even that huge lead wasn't comfortable enough for Cuomo, who in past years lent strong support to the campaign to repeal New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws, to take a similarly progressive stance on medical marijuana. Nor is evident support for medical marijuana among key Cuomo constituencies enough to budge him. According to a March poll, 50% of New Yorkers supported medical marijuana. The figures were higher for liberals (72%), young voters (62%) and Democrats (55%).
When asked by reporters Sunday about medical marijuana, Cuomo said he opposed a medical marijuana bill that had passed the state Assembly. "I think the dangers outweigh the benefits," he said. "I understand the benefits. I understand that it's been tried in other places. I think the risks outweigh the benefits."
When asked about possible revenues from taxing medical marijuana, Cuomo refused to bite. "A lot of things could raise revenues," he said."Legalizing prostitution could raise revenues. I'm against that, too."
And speaking of prostitution, it's worth noting that Paladino isn't the only option for marijuana reformers. Former madam Kirsten Davis is running on a marijuana and prostitution legalization platform on the Anti-Prohibition Party ticket, though her support is too small to show up in the polls. In the Senate race, long-time drug reformer Randy Credico has emphasized anti-prohibitionist and other drug reform positions in his independent campaign taking on Chuck Schumer.
The positions taken by the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New York are yet another indication that good drug policy reform positions are the exclusive domain of neither major party.
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